Our May picks for community theatre
Tom Healey - AustralianPlays.org Literary Manager
This month I have chosen two plays by very popular and widely-performed writers, David Williamson and Jane Bodie. While the two plays are wildly different, they share one important thing in common – they both write amazing and compelling people. These are plays that depend entirely on the actors who perform them. They are both gifts to actors who enjoy complexity and humour and they are hugely popular with audiences because of the intense human contact they engender.
Charitable Intent by the ubiquitous David Williamson belongs to a sequence of three plays entitled The Jack Manning Trilogy. Jack Manning is a character created by Williamson who is a mediator for community conferencing. This is a legal process in which the perpetrator is brought face to face (the title of the first of this trilogy) with the victims of the crime. These are unusual plays in Williamson’s oeuvre in that, while they contain a great deal of Williamson’s trademark whip-crack humour, they also tackle serious social issues in an unadorned and what seems, at first glance, untheatrical manner. People arrive, they sit around and talk and then they leave. The magic of these plays lies in their structure, the way that tension is built and released, the way large social issues are tackled and their essential optimism about the legal process they utilize. Charitable Intent focuses on a fraud unleashed on a charitable organisation by its CEO. The roles are wonderful – funny and sad, and sometimes very confronting and the play is a wonderful examination of temptation and greed. Great, meaty roles and a play that not only makes you laugh, but leaves you thinking.
Fourplay is an early text by our very own (adopted) Gen X voice-of-the-people, Jane Bodie. It’s a complex piece that examines the intertwined relationships of four people as they fall in and out of love. Bodie’s ability to articulate the inner lives of her characters is her trademark. The text is - in turns – painful, hilarious and deeply emotional as its four characters inch their way towards new lives, new relationships and deeper understanding. This is almost a choral piece, which demands fearless, deep and authentic acting and, like Charitable Intent works strongly on its audience. If you are looking for a great chamber work for four 20-30 somethings this piece is for you!
Tom Healey, Literary Manager